LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It's been more than a month since a major crack was discovered on the Hernando Desoto bridge, shutting it down completely.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation said the repairs are moving swiftly.
Phase 1 is now complete. Temporary brackets are in place around the fractured area. The next step is the permanent steel plating.
"Some of the materials are still being fabricated, being made. Some locally, some are not," Dave Parker, with the Arkansas Department of Transportation, said.
Currently, the I-40 bridge is not set to reopen until late July or early August.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation made traffic changes last week to keep cars moving, which included different detours for exits and opening a second lane of traffic on the I-55 bridge.
As for future bridge inspections, ARDOT will use $2 million from their budget to hire an independent consultant to look at the current bridge inspection program and make recommendations on any changes.
U.S. government agencies are checking out the process as well.
"The office of inspector general is looking at things. The federal highway administration is conducting an audit to look at our bridge inspection program. We welcome that," Parker said.
The following update is from the Tennessee Department of Transportation Friday:
The contractor is making significant progress on the repairs. The post-tensioning (PT) process could begin as soon as Sunday, but a lot of prep work must be done first. Crews are working day and night.
- Weldment/PT anchor installation is ongoing. Final drilling/bolting/welding will continue through today and tomorrow.
- Installation of PT bars has started. Work on this will continue through today and tonight and should be completed by Saturday.
- Offloading and installing PT equipment, jacks, etc., will start today and continue through the weekend.
- 24/7 operations started Wednesday night.
- Permanent plate fabrication has begun, and delivery of the first plates can be expected next week.
As a reference, this animation explains the process in very simple terms.
In-depth inspections of the bridge continue. If any issues are found during the repairs, it could affect the bridge's opening date. The safety of the workers and the public is our number one priority.
All interstate traffic in the Memphis area is being diverted to I-55. The second lane we added to the I-55 southbound ramp to help alleviate some congestion and advance flow through the Crump Interchange appears to be working. Comparing Week 2 (Thursday, May 20) after the I-40 Bridge Closure event to this week (Thursday, June 17), we have recorded the following percent change in the day to day peak travel delay numbers:
- SB saw a 77% reduction (55 minutes versus 16 minutes)
- NB saw a reduction of 51% (56 minutes to 27 minutes)
As for local traffic issues, TDOT is working with the city of Memphis to alleviate some of the downtown congestion by opening I-40 west from the I-40/I-240 interchange (midtown) up to the Danny Thomas (US 51) interchange.
To help you plan ahead, every Monday, we are posting estimated average travel delays for the week on our website so you can see which days and times to avoid. You can also view real-time digital message signs alerting you of any incidents.
TDOT HELP trucks are stationed on both sides of the I-55 bridge to respond quickly to any incidents and keep lanes open. Below are direct links to the TDOT SmartWay cameras posted at the east and west approaches of I-55 for live traffic information.
We are holding daily meetings with ARDOT, our consultants, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Memphis Police Department, and FHWA to develop and expedite the repair project while managing traffic along the alternate routes.
You can click here for the latest on traffic times and detour maps.